RLJ Entertainment’s Urban Movie Channel (UMC) is kicking off Black History Month with the premiere of several special films and programs. First, there was the Underground Railroad drama, The North Star, which was based on true events from the lives of two escaped slaves and premiered last week. The film chronicles the journey of Benjamin “Big Ben” Jones (played by Jeremiah Trotter, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles) and Moses Hopkins (played by Thomas C. Bartley Jr.), who escaped from a Virginia plantation and made their way to freedom in Buckingham, Pennsylvania, in 1849. The film also stars Lynn Whitfield, Clifton Powell, and Keith David.
On Feb. 19, look out for Becoming Barack: Evolution of a Leader, a revealing portrait of President Barack Obama’s formative years in Chicago, and Bound: Africans vs. African Americans, a hard-hitting documentary that explores the relationship between Africans and African Americans, produced by Isaiah Washington and directed by filmmaker Peres Owino.
Later in the month on Feb. 26, untold stories of history will be told via An American Ascent, a documentary about the first black mountaineer group to climb Denali, the highest peak in North America, and the first two installments from Tim Reid’s Legacy documentary series, Legacy of Blacks in Auto Racing and Builders of the Alaska Highway.
UMC, touted as the first urban-focused streaming service in North America showcasing “quality and exclusive urban content designed for African American and urban audiences,” streams online at UrbanMovieChannel.com. Created by Robert L. Johnson, chairman of RLJ Entertainment and founder of BET, UMC is an urban-focused subscription service in North American and features content highlighting feature films, documentaries, original series, stand-up comedy, and other exclusive content for African American and urban audiences.
Popular programming includes comedy specials such as Martin Lawrence Presents: 1st Amendment Stand Up and the Comedy Underground Series, featuring performances by Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx and film star Kevin Hart; dramas including Blackbird starring Academy Award winning actress and comedian Mo’Nique, Isaiah Washington, and directed by Patrik-Ian Polk; and Playin’ For Love, starring and directed by Robert Townsend; documentaries including Bill Duke’s Dark Girls and I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac; action/thrillers including The Colony starring Laurence Fishburne; and stage play productions including What My Husband Doesn’t Know by David E. Talbert.